HealthDay News — Patients with a previous cancer diagnosis have an elevated risk of developing cutaneous melanoma (CM), data published in Archives of Dermatology indicate.

Jeremy S. Bordeaux, MD, MPH, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, and colleagues investigated the risk of CM following a previous cancer. The researchers compared a total of 70,819 patients with CM as a first primary cancer, and 6,353 patients with CM following a previous cancer, using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database collected from 1988 to 2007. They examined survival characteristics of the two groups and calculated the relative risks (RRs) of developing CM following a previous cancer.

For patients younger than 45 years when they were first diagnosed with cancer, there was a significantly elevated risk of CM following previous CM (RR=11.89), Kaposi sarcoma (RR=3.26), other non-epithelial skin cancers (RR=2.81), female breast cancer (RR=1.38) and lymphoma (RR=1.79).

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The risk of CM was significantly higher for patients aged 45 years or older at first cancer diagnosis (RR=8.36), other non-epithelial skin cancer (RR=5.34), after a previous diagnosis of CM (RR=2.00), prostate cancer (RR=1.40), lymphoma and leukemia (RR=1.79), thyroid cancer (RR=1.34), ocular melanoma (RR=1.12) and female breast cancer (RR=1.08).

The following factors were linked with better survival in both cohorts: age younger than 45 years at melanoma diagnosis, female gender, being married, being white versus black, decreasing Breslow depth, lack of tumor ulceration, no nodal involvement and the absence of metastases.

“Given that cutaneous melanoma is the most common second primary cancer in patients with a first CM (a risk that remains elevated for over 15 years), our results suggest the need for continued skin surveillance in melanoma survivors,” the researchers wrote.

Bordeaux JS et al. Arch Dermatol. 2011; 147(12):1395-1402.